Research Findings: The Ill Effects of Data Pollution Are Skyrocketing in Marketing Organizations

Over the past decade, marketers have embraced the concept of “Big Data.” Unfortunately, they’ve found that bigger is not always better—not if size comes without the requisite level of control, that is. As a result of the recent uninhibited data land grab, today’s marketers are being forced to confront an inconvenient truth of their own: data pollution.

According to a recent Forrester Consulting study, commissioned by Infogroup, “Marketers Need To Confront The Inconvenient Truth Of Data Pollution,” the vast majority of Marketing organizations—96 percent, in fact—have had campaigns negatively affected by data pollution. This is a trend that our industry needs to reverse—and fast. Let’s take a look at the state of data and analytics today, as well as how marketers can get back on the path to unlocking the benefits that effective Marketing data can offer.

More Data

In recent years, marketers have realized that better use of data is the key to meeting consumers’ and B2B buyers’ growing demands for personalized experiences. As a result, data and analytics budgets have never been higher. According to our survey respondents, data and analytics programs accounted for about 9 percent of overall Marketing budgets two years ago. Today, that average has risen to 16 percent and is expected to continue its upward trajectory. By 2021, marketers expect to be spending an average of 22 percent of their Marketing budgets on data and analytics. For an average 500+ employee enterprise, this equates to a $5 million increase in the data and analytics budget in just four years.

Of course, increased investment in data has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in the overall volume of Marketing data that is flowing into the organization. In fact, more than 96 percent of respondents said they’ve seen an increase in data stored across the organization, with more than 70 percent reporting the increase as being significant.

Of course, we’re not just talking about an increase in overall data volume. Marketers are also increasing the diversity of sources from which they draw their insights. On average, marketers today are using six different types of data in their Marketing efforts, from behavioral and intent data to transactional and traditional media data.

More Problems

As a result of the messy influx of data into companies, data pollution now plagues virtually all Marketing organizations. Despite their higher investments in data and analytics, the overwhelming amount of data available has actually led to a decrease in data quality. Marketing teams today are challenged throughout the data process, which can be broken down as follows:

  • Collecting the right data types
  • Compiling and organizing collected data
  • Analyzing data and finding meaningful insights
  • Turning data insights into effective activation

According to our survey, 88 percent of marketers find multiple stages of the above process challenging, and more than two-thirds (67 percent) indicate challenges in all four stages. These challenges are manifesting in real-world consequences, with 90 percent of marketers indicating that their Marketing campaigns have been negatively affected by low-quality or inaccurate data in the past two years. The effects are felt as both financial and relationship losses, including:

  • Wasted money (70 percent)
  • Decreased revenue (52 percent)
  • Loss of customers (51 percent)
  • Decreased customer satisfaction (46 percent)
  • Low number of conversions (45 percent)
  • Loss of budget (44 percent)
  • Loss of confidence from executives and peers (41 percent)
  • Damaged brand reputation (38 percent)

Getting Data Programs Back on Track

The good news is that as much as poor data and management practices can hurt Marketing organizations, accurate data and well-managed programs can yield significant improvements in conversion rates and ROI. Of course, the elimination of data pollution from Marketing organizations doesn’t happen overnight. It requires a commitment by Marketing leadership in the following areas:

  • Data cleansing of both existing and incoming resources
  • Data education that improves marketers’ ability to distinguish between good and bad data
  • Breaking down siloes to ensure data systems are connected and freely able to communicate with one another

The impact of improving data quality and management within the Marketing organization can be tremendous. Our survey found that Marketing organizations see their ROI more than double when using accurate and actionable data, compared with campaigns that run without accurate and actionable data. For the average 500+ employee enterprise, this equates to an estimated average yearly increase of $104 million in Marketing-driven revenue. Marketers also reported a similar increase in conversion rates when using accurate and actionable data—double the conversion rate seen in campaigns run without effective data.

In other words, although the elimination of data pollution isn’t always easy, the reward is well worth the work. It’s time to start undoing the damage of the past decade of data mismanagement.

Read more: Three Reasons to Start Planning Your Christmas Marketing Campaign Now